12 Of The Best Software Testing Tips

Software testing can be a tricky field to get into and sometimes even harder to understand once there. There is a massive onrush of information that is necessary to pick up quickly to be a good tester, but it can be overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips to ease this transition and ensure that beginner testers gain the strong skills fundamental to becoming a successful software tester.

1. Pay attention to detail

Software testing is all about the details. It’s not just testing the main features of a product, but also the minute ones. During the testing process, it is critical not only to look at the overall functionality of the big picture but also to the little pieces that comprise it. This is where some of the strangest bugs and issues can occur and unless there is microscopic attention and examination of everything, then there is a high possibility that things will be missed. This can lead to impacted product development and unhappy developers, so focus on the details. 

2. Ask questions during training 

Ask, ask, ask. During training, it is natural to want to impress the boss and understand all the information that is being thrown your way, but they have the knowledge and experience so ask them for clarifications and additional material or resources. Even if they have already said it or it might seem like a dumb question, ask anyway. It is possible that dumb question might save you a lot of trouble later down the road. 

3. Understand the terminology 

If you are brand new to software testing, you will start to hear lots of terms being bandied about such as regressions, UAT, exploratory testing, amongst others. The expectation there is that you already know and understand them. Write them down, look them up, and ask team members if you are still unclear. They will be part of everyday life now and while some can be gained based on context, understanding the terminology will help improve overall comprehension and understanding of the work at hand.

4. Think outside the box

This is one of the mantras that every software tester should be repeating constantly. There is a reason why the development team hired testers and that is to figure out issues that the development team cannot see whether it be because of their tunnel vision or lack of time. One way of doing that is by thinking about the issues in completely different ways and perspectives. Challenge yourself to say, “if I did it this way now, what are the five other ways I could do this later”. By consistently focusing energy on being creative, you will come across irregular bugs or issues that no one else will have and will be noticed for that work.  

5. “Break the system”

This is more used for exploratory testing but can still be relevant for other types of testing as well. Approach the product as if you were a completely clueless person using it for the very first time. Push every button, try and overwhelm it, and ultimately end up with some tricks that could break the product. By doing so, it showcases that a proper investigation into the product’s durability and sustainability was conducted which will translate into confident reporting when informing the development team. 

6. Know your audience

When testing features on a product, learn about the audience. Ask questions such as; who are the users, are they experienced or inexperienced, what would be the key functions they are looking for. By asking questions such as these, it allows for the formulation of new ideas on how to test certain features. Just remember to think outside the box while doing so. 

7. Learn what constitutes good acceptance criteria 

Acceptance criteria is something that has to be learned quickly and will change depending on the development team. There is no such thing as a standard acceptance criteria. Unclear acceptance criteria is the reason why some tickets can get stuck in QA which can lead to frustrations on both ends. To counter this, it is important to talk with the development team about the intended functionality of a product and what exactly they are looking for in the acceptance criteria. This will assist in both teams workloads and make the process run much smoother. 

8. Prioritize work 

When getting started for the day, look at the deadlines, and what the developers have communicated as their highest needs. If there is not a priority set by the developers, communicate with them. It is better to have a quick talk about the work and understand their needs then to get started with anything. Work your way down from the highest to lowest priorities so the work line is as efficient as possible for all teams involved. 

9. Write detailed reports

Testing is only as good as the report. If you do not write a detailed report, then the testing was completely useless. This may sound harsh, but inaccurate reports slow down product launches and lead to unhappy clients. Steps to reproduce are one of the most critical statements in the report as it allows the reader to mimic the issue. When it is unclear, the issue cannot be found and fixed.Take extensive notes, and include this in the documentation. Screenshots and videos are super helpful to include as a visual. Include as much detail as is relevant, but do not drown the reports in long texts, they will not be read. Keeping the reports detailed but succinct is a sure way to build a great relationship with the development team.

10. Review the work

Always review your work. In the early days of testing, have someone review the reports and provide feedback on what is missing or could be improved. This will help you gain confidence in writing detailed reports. An extra set of more experienced eyes will help with learning the terminology and ensure that everything is correctly reported. Before sending the bug report back to the development team, check the issue again. Sometimes the development team will have fixed the issue while the report was being written and will not appreciate another report detailing the problem they just fixed. By reviewing the work a few times, it can simplify later issues. 

11. Examine previous work

When working on more long term projects with other colleagues, look back at their reports for the previous days. This helps in your understanding of what certain issues were arising earlier and to keep an eye on those particular features. It also helps to ensure that developers do not get the same bugs or issues reported twice which causes them to lose valuable time. It is also a great way to understand the product development and how it is moving along. 

12. Know when to give up

This sounds ominous, but it is a key tip in becoming a great tester. This is not about giving up testing completely (although you may feel that way some days), but when there is an issue that blocks every other step or a feature that is just not working for whatever reason, knowing when to give up is critical. This is a tricky place to navigate as you want to ensure that the issue is not the fault of how you are testing, but rather an actual bug. Nevertheless, at times parts of the product will be broken and you will not be able to work around it. Knowing when this is and documenting it will help you move on to other priorities and make more efficient use of your time. 

"Software testing is not the easiest field to get into, but there are certain hacks and tips. With these under your belt, you can ensure that you will get noticed in a positive way" - Keenan Sanford, Head Tester at Loop

Closing Thoughts...

Software testing can be a fun, but challenging position but with these tips in your repertoire, there is a solid foundation to build up your knowledge and expertise, upon which will lead you to becoming a successful tester. 

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